Washington Nationals: Handicapping the race for 5th starter
By Ron Juckett
The Nats were not fair to Erick Fedde last year.
On track to get his first cup of coffee in Washington last fall, the front office converted him into a reliever during the height of the Nats bullpen issues before converting back into a starter. Fedde earned more than a short stint in the majors, but the shifting of roles killed his effectiveness.
Settled into a starting position again, instead of running him on a Syracuse-DC shuttle, the Nats figure he starts the year in Triple-A. It is important for Fedde to pitch every fifth game. When Lucas Giolito and A.J. Cole suffered from constant trips back and forth, it hurt their confidence.
Giolito was so spooked by the pressure he was traded. Washington cannot afford to treat Fedde the same way.
On the plus side, Fedde turned heads last spring over a couple starts. His fastball had speed, but not life. You could see why the Nats love his potential, but he needed fine tuning.
The same could be said when Fedde got the promotion in August. He is on the cusp of good things, but his 2.152 WHIP and 9.39 ERA over 15.1 innings tell a different story.
Until he masters an out pitch, Fedde will struggle in the bigs. But, with confidence, he can win the job if he shows patience and baffles hitters. Next year, they would bounce him between levels. This year, the guess is he starts in a teaching environment.